How HR can engage with autonomous, introverted, and remote employees in 2021

With the shift to remote working, keeping all employees engaged has become the number one priority for HR – David Godden, the VP of Sales and Marketing at Thymometrics, explores how HR can go further

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Employee engagement Recruitment and retention Talent management

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With the shift to remote working, keeping all employees engaged has become the number one priority for HR – David Godden, the VP of Sales and Marketing at Thymometrics, explores how HR can go further

Maintaining employee engagement has been the goal of nearly every organisation, and for good reason. Studies have shown that high levels of engagement produce happier employees who are more productive, loyal, and generate increased revenues. A Gallup poll indicated that highly engaged employees produce 23% more profits and they reduce attrition rates by 61% in organisations with high to low employee turnover.

In the wake of the pandemic and the shift to remote work, almost everything we knew about keeping employees engaged changed. With a large share of the labour force now expected to work remotely, the old rules no longer apply.

Why employees want to leave

Primarily, employees leave when they become disengaged. The reasons for employee disengagement can be varied, but research from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) indicates, “employees’ engagement levels are often determined by the strength of their relationships with supervisors and co-workers”.

Kate Anania, a writer for Investopedia, shares some reasons why employees may decide to seek greener pastures.

  • Lack of work/life balance – When an employee doesn’t take care of their physical and mental health, it makes it difficult to be productive or engaged in work. Companies need to remember that employees are human beings, not robots. Their well-being and sense of work-life balance need to come first.
  • Too much (or too little) work – Employees are a valuable resource if their time and talents are being respected. Too much work and they can become burnt out; not enough and they simply get bored. To prevent their exit, HR can evaluate each employee’s ability to take on new work and reduce overwhelm.
  • Rewards and promotion problems – If your rewards and recognition program is unfair or impossible to achieve, or never used, then it can damage relationships with employees. Make it feasible for all employees to earn a promotion from their hard work and when they are ready to take on more responsibilities. Offer praise often.
  • Poor management – Workers leave because of bad managers, not bad jobs. It takes more effort to connect with less outgoing or remote employees, but it’s all about maintaining an engaged team. Managers must open channels of communication that are comfortable to introverts.
  • Toxic work environment – Many work environments have become increasingly toxic, even those that offer remote working. For example, employees who don’t speak up during virtual meetings may feel ignored. Find ways for employees to vent or get a break from it all.
  • Poor compensation – The quickest way to lose good employees is to offer them substandard pay and benefits. Make sure you are aligning job roles with fair industry rates. Remote employees should be paid equal rates and ensure they are compensated for work-related expenses.
  • Career goals altered – Sometimes, an employee just gets tired of not having all their skills being utilised, and may decide to go in a completely new direction. If you want to maintain engaged employees, get to know what their career goals are and serve them up with projects that offer them ownership — even if they fail.

It can be easier to lose a remote employee.  For example, a remote employee may just stop communicating with their team or management, which can hold up projects. Many managers are afraid of micro-managing their people, but it’s important that managers give clear instructions, set expectations, and provide meaningful feedback through coaching.

How can HR leaders ensure they are offering all employees a satisfactory experience working from home, and how can they make things better so that all are thriving?

The right systems and resources to improve remote collaboration

Having the right communication and collaboration tools that are easy to use and help people feel connected to the business are important. This has never been more relevant than now, with enforced remote working.

A simplified dashboard that includes the right cloud-based tools helps employees become more efficient. CIPHR HR combined with Thymometrics’ engagement feedback tools means that everything a team member needs is in one place. Employees know that, if they are struggling for any reason (work or personal), they have a one-stop-shop to get answers or find the support they need.

Teaching employees how to use communication tools

If you want employees to use the tools and resources provided to them, even if it’s for their own good – they need to be instructed by a supervisor about how to use them. This can include teaching employees to be proactive when it comes to sharing with others using online solutions. It can border on over-communication at times, but since people have different communication styles, there should be several ways to communicate and work together.

Encourage everyone to participate in virtual meetings and share something positive from the day. Connect employees with complementary skills to collaborate on projects. A combination of extroverted and more mature employees can work well with younger and more introverted people. Everyone can respect each other’s qualities, but they also need to participate. Make it a rule that everyone contributes something to every meeting, even if it’s just a concern or a question.

In a remote work environment, it’s important to empower employees and give them options on speaking up and asking for help. This can be hard for highly independent employees.

Frequent feedback from management matters

The experience of being a remote worker can be isolating at times. However, it is possible to maintain positive engagement when management is staying in contact with employees.

According to Gallup’s top workplace insights from the end of 2020, “remote workers can have higher engagement than in-office workers – when they receive frequent feedback from their manager.” As a manager, what is your process for maintaining contact with employees? Are you providing feedback often and, more importantly, are you listening to and acting on the feedback given by employees?

The Thymometrics real-time employee engagement platform provides a safe two-way communication channel for greater feedback management. It can be easier and more convenient for an introverted or remote employee to use this type of format instead of the intimidating virtual meeting.

Re-engaging with the (almost) lost employees

Management doesn’t have to wait until a previously productive employee suddenly drops off the radar. Instead, take the time to re-engage with your people. Find the communication channels and create a consistent schedule for staying in contact with your employees – even if there’s no business to discuss, a friendly chat for 10 minutes can rejuvenate a person’s spirits. Use each opportunity to learn more about the individual employee’s needs, career goals, and the positives and negatives of their job experience. Make it a point to remove any obstacles to their success.

You can’t force employees to stay on board, but you can design incentives that address their requirements. For example, some employees like immediate feedback and recognition for their efforts. Others hope for stability and are patient when it comes to receiving rewards, but they still need to hear praise, consistently.